Cubs 2010 Preview

Getting to Know Your Obscure Cubs: Starlin Castro

As the top prospect on a lot of Cubs' prospect lists this offseason, Starlin Castro isn't all that obscure. But my idea for this little series of articles was to focus on some of the less obvious names that could impact the team in 2010 beyond the usual suspects. And it might not be right out of spring training, but somewhere potentially down the winding road. And even though Castro has been hyped up quite a bit lately, there aren't many of us that have gotten to see him on a regular basis, so let's dive a little deeper into the almost 20-year old phenom. Of course, I haven't seen him play myself besides a few video clips, but that won't stop me from pretending I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING, for it's not the Internet if you can't pass yourself off as a faux expert.

Castro was signed in 2006 out of the Dominican Republic at age 16 and played in the Dominican Summer League the following year with good results (299/371/371). At age 18, he found his way to Arizona and improved to 311/364/464 in the AZL and started to place on some of the prospect lists. The Cubs under scouting director Tim Wilken have obviously stressed the middle of the diamond and with Castro, Hak-Ju Lee, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, Junior Lake and Ryan Flaherty, they could afford a few risks with their promotions. Castro was the benefactor thanks to his coachability and got the bump to Hi-A Daytona to start off 2009. He managed it well and as a 19-year old earned a mid-season All-Star selection in the Florida State League and then a promotion to Double A Tennessee. He finished the year at 299/342/392 between the two levels, all before his 20th birthday. The Cubs then rewarded him with a nod to the Arizona Fall League where he put up a  376/398/475 slash line in the friendly hitting environmet and played in the "Rising Stars" game. This was enough to earn him a non-roster invite to the big league club and talk that he'll push Ryan Theriot out of a job.

The Cubs prospect hype machine has been at full throttle with Castro since last year and I've heard comparisions from Shawon Dunston to Edgar Renteria to Derek Jeter. Arizona Phil's comparision may have been my favorite:

Castro has been everything the Cubs hoped Ronny Cedeno would be, but never was.

Well if he can manage to not overslide second base to end a game on a walk, I can only envision great things.

Getting to Know Your Obscure Cubs: Jeff Gray

In my quest to fill out some pages at Wiklifield, I thought I'd take a deeper look at some lesser known guys in the organization that could make an impact.

Jeff Gray

The center piece as far as the Cubs were concerned when they moved Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the A's in December(the Cubs also received Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer). The 28-year old right-hander was drafted in 2004 by the Oakland A's in the 32nd round and saw a brief 4-inning cup of coffee in 2008 despite struggling in the minors with a 4.32 ERA.  After the season, he reworked some issues with his mechanics in the AFL and enjoyed a more successful 2009 with a 1.54 ERA in Triple A over 41 innings with 16 saves and then a solid 3.76 ERA over 26.1 IP with the A's after being called up on four occasions. His strikeout rate dropped significantly in 2009, although he still maintained a fantastic K:BB ratio(4.75 in the majors, 3.76 in the minors) and keeps the ball in the park with a remarkable 0.36 HR/9 rate over his minor league career.

He claims to throw five pitches - a four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball - but says his sinker and slider are his bread-and-butter pitches.

He'll compete for one or two bullpen spots that will be open to competition this spring. Jim Hendry compared him to Angel Guzman when the Cubs acquired him in December. I assume that was a comparision to their pitching style and not injury histories as Gray seems to have stayed healthy so far through his career. If he doesn't make the club out of spring training, he does have one minor league option left.

After the jump, the bulk of his Wiklified entry.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • There's some BA is missing too, here's all signing bonus BA doesn't have some:

    -6 Hockin $241,000 (slot price), 7 Cruz $75,000 (saved $110,00), 8 Ridlings $120,000 (saved $53,800), 9 Robinson $30,000 (saved $132,300), so far the Cubs have saved an extra $297,100

    cubbies.4ever 39 min 43 sec ago view
  • per Muscat...
    Zobrist (2B), Hayward (CF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo, Contreras (LF), Montero, Russell, Coghlan (RF), Hammel

    Cubster 48 min 25 sec ago view
  • Also -- despite losing 6 of their last 10, the Cubs picked up a game on both STL and PIT during that period. Weird, given that they swept PIT and were swept by STL.

    billybucks 48 min 28 sec ago view
  • Also, I'd like to know if there are numbers to back up my suspicion that there are a lot more fast starts than late June romps. This seems like a time where everybody not named Willson Contreras is looking a little tired and/or banged up a bit.

    For once, the Cubs got off to a fast start. Seems like I've been waiting for that for 50 years.Everybody is really gunning for this team, too. It's their playoffs.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 13 min ago view
  • He reminds me of a little of a young guy currently on the Cubs' DL, who is also tank-like in appearance.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 28 min ago view
  • draft signings are trickling in...rounds 6-9 are signed + a random slew of others.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/index.php

    filter by team.

    crunch 11 hours 16 min ago view
  • Former Major League All-Star Jim Hickman dies at 79

    http://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/2016/06/25/...

    QuietMan 12 hours 19 min ago view
  • Yep...sort of. Matheny says Rosenthal will no longer pitch the 9th, and they will mix/match Oh, Siegrist and Broxton.

    billybucks 12 hours 39 min ago view
  • Duane Underwood now 0-5 with a 5.44 ERA for Tenn. Urp. Warren not sharp at Iowa tonight. When will Cease and Hudson be ready?

    On a positive note, Jiminez with his 10th HR tonight. He has a .924 OPS -- the only player in the league with an OPS over .900. Leads the lead in 2B, SLG and OPS, tied for the league lead in HR and 3rd in Avg. Nice!

    billybucks 12 hours 44 min ago view
  • - The pressure of going for the regular-season wins record is now gone.
    - Joe will come up with more wacky dress-up ideas for the team to wear after they lose their next get-away game.
    - There is more clarity on Spencer Patton.
    - We play the Reds next. They aren't very good.
    - We'll have at least a 9 game lead after today.
    EDIT: - Contreras looks like the real deal.

    Other than that, not much -- nasty stretch. Two ugly losses in the last 4 games.
    Ugh -- give Lackey a 4-1 lead, you hope for better.

    billybucks 14 hours 45 min ago view
  • Joe: "We lost. They beat us. Now where's my '09 Guigal Bordeaux glass...?

    The E-Man 15 hours 42 min ago view
  • I forgot how rail thin skinny Carl Edwards Jr. Is - he threw some nasty stuff - hope that continues

    Eric S 15 hours 47 min ago view
  • HAHAHA! I love it here! Brilliant...

    The E-Man 15 hours 50 min ago view
  • "The pressure of going for the regular-season wins record is now gone."

    Brilliant. Maddon is a genius!

    Brick 15 hours 55 min ago view
  • "Drink copiously but responsibly."

    Done and done. Thanks for that.

    Brick 15 hours 56 min ago view
  • Oil Can Boyd now pitching for the Cubs

    Eric S 16 hours 5 min ago view